Uganda Rural Information and Communication Technology/Education Center (URICT) implements community-based projects at the grassroots.
URICT Uganda is a charitable, non-governmental organisation, registered with the National NGO Board under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uganda.
The organization was born out of commitment, love, hope, and prayers by Dr. Monica Mukyala, Mrs. Victoria Namukasa, and Mr. Andrew Gabula, and they started implementing projects in May 2005.
URICT operates entirely in the Busoga region of Eastern Uganda, and owns, runs, and operates the following institutions and programmes:
- Joy Orphanage Home for 50 HIV/AIDS orphans from child-headed families without any relatives
- A community school for over 375 HIV/AIDS children
- A vocational and life-skills training center
- A micro-finance program for rural widows and teenage mothers
- A program for safe motherhood and maternal health
- A program to end child and human sacrifice
- Programs for food security and access to safe water
- Increased access to health and care (safe motherhood and maternal health, sexual reproductive health & rights, mosquito nets access & fight against malaria).
- Increased access to education and child protection (primary school, vocational & life-skills training, orphanage, public health education, window of hope and sports & games).
- Increased access to markets and economic opportunities (micro-finance credit, social media to market local produce, access to business-related information, village banking, research and studies on economic trends).
- Human-rights awareness and promotion (ending child/human sacrifice, ending domestic violence, promoting family peace, documentation and reporting of human rights abuses).
- Access to safe and clean water (borehole drilling, water harvesting, irrigation, hand-washing, pit latrine, bio-gas, reducing water wastage).
- Food security (growing of fruit trees and vegetables for household nutrition and income generation, modern agriculture, access to milk/dairy products),
The areas where we operate are heavily populated, with a population of 7.8 million as on 2002. Girls start giving birth as early as the age of 14, and men marry 3-10 women on average. That every man should marry as many women as he pleases is the norm of the region.
To add to this situation, 89.4% of the population live below the poverty line and 73.5% can’t read or write. Mortality, and especially maternal mortality, stands high. There are just a handful of hospitals and schools. Most families and households have no access to pit latrines or safe and clean water. HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 22.3%, making it the highest in the region. There is no food security, and most families battle with famine every year.
Eastern Uganda is an isolated area, battling with numerous challenges. Women and children are among the most affected. For example, Bukyerimba is one of the many villages that make up Namisambya Parish in Kamuli. This is a very remote and poor village, but is alone has a population of 1,520.
Most of the people in this community are either young or very old, showing a typical example of how HIV/AIDS has killed the youth and working-age population, leaving behind many little children and old grandparents. This village appears to be cut off from the rest of the world.
Villagers here mainly depend on basic field farming and orchard farming for their livelihood; however, they are always at the mercy of the weather for them to plant their crops: they have to always wait for the rainy seasons in order to plant and till their gardens. This means that when it doesn’t rain on time, famine strikes, killings several people.
Clearly, like any other village in Uganda, this too has been completely ignored by the Ugandan government. The only time a politician or their leader is seen is when the leaders and politicians are looking for votes or harassing the local people to pay taxes. There are no hospitals or health centers, no proper schools, no roads, and no access to safe clean water.
As a community development worker, who has been working in this community for so long, I have realized that there is an urgent need for access to safe and clean water. It makes me cry when I see the locals dying due to water-related diseases. This is very much preventable, if only they had a borehole where they could access safe and clean water. There is an ever-increasing number of girls dropping out of school because they need to fetch water from far away. Fetching water is considered a domestic duty of girls and women. On average, women and girls walk for over four miles to get just 20 liters of safe and clean water from the only protected well in the community.
Domestic violence in this community is another challenge. Such gender-based violence too stems from the fact that women and girls walk for miles to fetch water, line up for hours to get water, and then walk back home, almost always reaching home when it's late and dark. Their husbands end up beating them, suspecting that they have sexual affairs elsewhere with other men. These men are so heartless; they never appreciate the poor women. It's too bad a situation here. I wish the government can take a study into this situation.
There are increased rape cases, and always women and girls are raped in the evening hours. In 2009, when I first visited this village, 31cases of rape were reported within the community. The police in Kamuli never followed up the cases. By 2012 the number of rape cases has more than doubled. The rapists always take advantage of the poor, defenseless women walking in the night from the only source of clean water.
In order to avoid physical torture, many women and girls resort to fetching water from open, unprotected sources, like the swamps. It’s a highly disturbing fact that humans are now sharing these health hazard water swamps with animals. This has translated into several waterborne diseases and increased death of the children and adults.
These are just one of the many challenges the women and girls have to battle with on a daily basis, not to mention the denied opportunities to go to school, access to safe motherhood, etc.